Uruguay to be the First Country in the World to Sell Marijuana in Pharmacies

In 2013, Uruguay legalized the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of marijuana under former President Jose Mujica. Although, it has been three years since the legalization of cannabis, Uruguay has had a slow start in rolling out the process. But things are finally changing, Uruguay plans to have pharmacies selling marijuana by July 2017. There are of course restrictions, under current President Tabare Vazquez's administration "[by] law, buyers must sign up for a national registry of marijuana users to ensure they have fulfilled licensing procedures and do not exceed the monthly maximum purchase of 40 grams, and a weekly maximum of 10 grams." said presidential aide, Juan Andres Roballo. This registry will be open to only Uruguayan citizens or permanent residents. Uruguayans will also have the option of growing their own marijuana at home, or to join cannabis clubs that grow in cooperatives. 

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Juan Manuel, owner of a shop dedicated to cannabis merchandise in Montevideo. (Photo / Miguel Rojo) 

"A gram of marijuana will cost $1.30," said the secretary general of the National Drugs Council, Diego Olivera. Olivera continued by stating that "[marijuana] will be sold in packets of five or 10 grams, with only the smaller size available initially." As for the supply of marijuana for the pharmacies, the government has already stockpiled 400 kilograms (~880 pounds). This stockpile comes from two private companies in state supervised fields. 

But that's not the only problem, the Uruguayan government is having a hard time finding pharmacies willing to supply marijuana. So far only 16 pharmacies have signed agreements with the government in order to dispense marijuana, but the government is hopeful to get 30 pharmacies to participate by early July. 

Although there seems to be many issues that need to be worked out, Uruguay will still be the first country to fully legalize marijuana and sell it in pharmacies. This brings up a bigger question -- if the government is to fully legalize marijuana, will big corporation's take over the mom and pop businesses that are currently pushing out product?